Coastal Carolina hopeful QB Hillary can play this week

ryoung@thesunnews.comOctober 28, 2012 

  • More information Next game Who | Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb Where | Boiling Springs, N.C. When | 1:30 p.m. Saturday Radio | 100.3 FM

CONWAY The Coastal Carolina football team received good news on the health of its starting quarterback, but the Chanticleers don’t know for sure if that means senior Aramis Hillary will be able to play this week.

Hillary, who was carted off the field and taken to the hospital Saturday night after sustaining a neck injury midway through the fourth quarter of Coastal’s 36-12 win over Liberty, was back on campus Sunday evening and wearing a rigid neck brace while watching his teammates return to practice.

Nonetheless, both Hillary and CCU offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude expressed hope the veteran quarterback will be ready when the Chants take the field Saturday at Gardner-Webb.

“It’s certainly possible he could be ready to go by the middle of the week,” Patenaude said. “He got folded up. The back-side safety came in and he was going down and just got folded up. It wasn’t any kind of major blow or anything like that. Everything was more precautionary. They took him and they did some tests and by the time he left last night, he was feeling good.

“He’s stiff obviously, but I think it’s more post-game stiffness than it is a neck injury type thing. We haven’t gotten any word that he’s out or anything like that. Our thought is he’s going to be back by the middle of the week, and then you make a determination where he is at that point and kind of go from there.”

Hillary leads the Big South Conference in total offense with 2,058 yards and ranks second in passing yards with 1,770 to go with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. He helped Coastal (4-4, 2-1 Big South) to its best win of the season Saturday as it dominated rival Liberty for its second-straight victory.

There was 7:51 left in that game when he took the awkward hit and remained down for an extended period while medical staff came to his aid, immobilized him and carted him off the field. Hillary was released from the hospital Saturday night after passing all the necessary tests, and he said he never feared it was anything significant.

“The guy kind of just grabbed me by my foot and just turned me around, and as I was going down the safety came and kind of kneed me in my neck, kind of pushed my neck forward a little bit. ... It’s football,” Hillary said. “Hopefully this [brace] can take some of the relief off my neck and help it heal a little faster, but mid-week or so I should be back out to practice. I’m hoping Tuesday.”

CCU head coach Joe Moglia had also expressed optimism after the game that the quarterback was not severely injured as he was able to move his limbs and communicate after the hit, but it was nonetheless a scary moment for those in the stadium and on the sidelines.

“It was scary because anytime somebody’s laying down and they bring a backboard out, you always fear the worst and you kind of reflect back on things,” Patenaude said. “When I was a head coach at the University of New Haven, we had a kid go down with a neck injury so anytime anybody’s down like that it always brings out those kind of memories. And then I went out there, and [Hillary] is complaining that they’re putting him on a stretcher, like ‘Let me walk out of here.’ He was moving around, he was talking and he was getting mad that they were taking out the backboard so I knew he’d be alright.”

Redshirt-freshman Alex Ross took over for Hillary and completed his lone pass attempt for a 3-yard touchdown. In limited action this season, the poised rookie from Alpharetta, Ga., has completed 9-of-17 passes for 86 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and if he’s needed for an extended role this week against the Runnin’ Bulldogs, both he and Patenaude feel confident he can get the job done.

“I feel ready. I prepare every week in practice like I’m going to start, so it’s no different this week,” Ross said. “I’m just going to go out there, prepare to start and if I get that opportunity I’ll be ready.”

Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.

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